If you are visiting Vancouver and have a day or two to spare, consider exploring some of the numerous hiking trails that are close by.
For an easy sampler, Mount Seymour is hard to beat. A 30 minute drive from Vancouver will get you to the trailhead, gaining 1,000m even before you leave your vehicle. A nice trail winds up the mountain, with multiple viewpoints along the way. There are several trail choices, from Brockton Point (a 45 minute hike) to the third peak of Mt. Seymour, (2-3 hours of hiking at a comfortable pace).
The views start almost right away, and get progressively better. During spring and fall days with good visibility, you can see as far as Mt. Rainier, south of Seattle (Also read, “Top Things to Do in Seattle“). But on any good day you will be rewarded with panoramic views of Vancouver Island, the Georgia Strait, Fraser Valley, etc. If you choose to continue to the very top, Mt. Baker’s majestic profile with its glaciers to the south would compete for your camera’s attention with Mt. Garibaldi, BC’s own extinct volcano, on the north.
The second easily accessible option is in Squamish, a nice little town about an hour north of Vancouver. Stawamus Chief, with its huge granite wall, dominates the view from the valley, and is usually peppered with climbers trying to find their way to the top.
If you don’t have the stomach to hang on a rope hundreds of meters in the air, there is a nice trail leading to the summits (there are three) from the backside of the mountain. No need for the ropes, but it is still steep! Huffing and puffing in the shade of the forest is worth the reward at the end, though.
At the top, you’ll be able to finally catch some sun, stretch out on a large flat summit and enjoy the views of glacier-fed Squamish River flowing into Howe Sound. It’s a great hike for families, but it can be very busy on summer weekends. I haven’t taken my kids there yet, but I think the older one will be up for a challenge this summer. Budget 4-5 hours for a return trip, including a picnic at the top.
Joffre Lakes Trail
If you don’t mind driving a little bit further, Joffre Lakes Trail offers more than mountain top views. This trail brings you to three glacial lakes
For more adventurous souls out there, a well-worn path leads steeply up towards the glacier hanging from the cliffs above. Well worth the extra effort. If you have the camping equipment and can afford to spend a night, there is a designated campsite right by the lake. The views are unforgettable, although so are the mosquitoes in the summer!
If you’re leaving your home province and visiting Vancouver to do some hiking, make sure you protect yourself with travel insurance. A lot of Canadians don’t know that provincial health doesn’t cover all medical expenses when you’re out of your home province. Read on to see what your provincial health will and will not cover when you’re travelling around Canada.
Vlad lives in Richmond, BC, where he chases after his kids and loves to talk hiking with everyone he bumps into. He is the actuary at TuGo—a company he has proudly been part of for the past 11 years. Vlad hopes to share more of his hiking adventures with his family in the next few years.